The Path of Progress

By President Shirley M. Collado, September 4, 2021
A message from President Shirley M. Collado

As I look back on my time at Ithaca College, I remember that one of the things that fascinated me was its origin as a music conservatory. How did Ithaca College . . . become Ithaca College?

The story is often told as if magic happened. In 1892, W. Grant Egbert established a small music conservatory cradled within the city of Ithaca, and then . . . here IC is, more than a century later, a thriving comprehensive, residential college on top of South Hill. 

Make no mistake—I firmly believe there is something magical about IC. How else can you explain the powerful spirit and essence of this place? The sense of belonging that connects alumni across professions, across continents? 

But now, as I wrap up my time here as president, I see so clearly that the transformation of Ithaca College relied on more than heart and soul. It relied on a commitment to progress, the hard work and innovation of generation after generation of this learning community—people who held fast to an unwavering dedication to a high-quality liberal and professional education and a top-notch student experience. It relied on diligent, thoughtful decision-making, which read the signposts of an always-shifting landscape of higher education and charted a course forward with insight and alacrity. Ithaca College became Ithaca College because this IC family believed, so strongly, in what our college can give to the world. 

Today at Ithaca College—129 years later and in the midst of a historic time for higher education—the transformation continues. Still marked by the same work ethic, the same courageous inspiration, and the same commitment to melding theory, practice, and performance in sophisticated ways that contribute to the greater good. 

As a new academic year opens at IC, it does so by adding more texture, intention, and thrill to the college’s evolution. This year, IC will launch a new physician assistant master’s program and begin its first year as a Davis United World Colleges Scholars Program institution, both strong examples of how this college walks the walk of its mission to be a global destination for bold thinkers seeking to build thriving communities. 

IC will also welcome the creation of fresh, transcendent majors for our students, such as screen cultures—a collaboration between multiple departments in our schools of communications and humanities and sciences—and race, power, and resistance studies, the first major for the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, both of which showcase how curriculum is reflecting the intersectionality between disciplines and adapting to meet student interest. 

In this moment of progress, and as I transition out of my role as president, I am reminded of a passage from C. P. Cavafy’s “Ithaka”:

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.

Without her you wouldn’t have set out.

As IC prepares to welcome its class of 2025, I think about their journey, beginning in the fullness of a transformative year, and your journey as alumni, rooted so deeply within this institution, evolving and blossoming right along with us. 

It has been my greatest honor to serve as the ninth president of Ithaca College during such a historic time in our sector, our nation, and our world. This place is so special because of you—and for the magic you create as part of this IC family. Thank you.